The unexpected benefit was the improved relationships with my team and our growth in professional development. I have been with this team for nearly four years, but in the last year those relationships have really grown through Storypark. It is through the everyday conversations around children, planning, our weaknesses and building our confidence as we try and ask questions and work collaboratively. I love the excitement when staff share their learning and say, “Look at what I did” or even better “Look what this parent said, they never comment”. – Brooke Townend, Director
Goodstart Early Learning in Mosman is a small, intimate centre with thirty-nine places, many siblings coming through and with several educators’ children also at the centre. A converted suburban house, they celebrate their “quirks” and give children a strong sense of “home” through having them help cook in the kitchen or heading upstairs to the art room (a converted storage space).
The centre has always been keen to explore “jumping off paper”, but had different issues with trials of USBs and other systems. Goodstart introduced Storypark to the centre and they were keen to be part of the trial that was offered.
Brooke sees real value in Storypark as helping parents better understand what her staff do. “As an early years teacher you are constantly trying to justify your role and change it from caring to education,” she says. “Storypark allows parents to see and understand that. The communication and conversation we have with parents and that reciprocal discussion about children is so valuable. And, now parents want more information based on where the educators’ stories left off, so the learning is coming out of Storypark and back into rich and important conversations between educators and parents.”
Putting lots into Storypark
As a result of seeing the engagement with parents change, and their understanding in both educators role and their own role in their children’s learning, Goodstart Early Learning are trying to put as much of what they do into Storypark as possible. This includes using it for:
- Sending everyday learning stories out to families
- Summative assessments which summarise a year of achievements and inform transition reports
- A centre newsletter every week – the usual core information and communication of the centre
- A centre share – a tidbit, a reminder, something interesting to share with parents that can be read in less than a minute
- Staff do individual critical reflection on their teacher portfolios
- Director engages in critical reflection, project documentation and management
- Individual conversations and planning with families directly through Storypark
Looking towards Assessment
Storypark still doesn’t do everything, but the quality improvement across all of these areas is very high. Indeed, Brooke sees that Storypark has the potential to come into it’s own when the centre is next assessed. She says, “Everyone stresses out on A&R day, but with Storypark the staff have everything there that they can refer to and share. It has really built confidence in their ability and what they know.”
Storypark’s ability to tag and align stories and communication to standards, means that the educators feel they have everything at their finger tips. Brooke says the staff say, “If we had Storypark for A&R we could have just done this and that. We don’t need a huge A4 folder. It feels more dynamic and everything is current and in-front of you.”
Benefits for children
And, while Brooke talks up the benefits she sees for her staff, the real benefits are for the children.
At Goodstart Early Learning in Mosman, Storypark has helped to foster passionate educators, parents who are involved, stable relationships between families and the centre. It creates a safe secure and learning environment. It is all about creating that being, belonging and becoming each and every day.